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Puppets are for everyone! Win passes to the Ottawa Children’s Festival.

By Katie Marsh on May 29, 2011

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Childless people in their twenties to early thirties have entered the awkward age: way too old to enjoy children-oriented activities without feeling self-conscious, but often too young to have spawned a plausible excuse. Luckily,  those of you unable to procure a child for the Ottawa Children’s Festival have an alternative cover: you can just go for the art.

This year’s festival includes eight performances of dance, theatre, clowning and puppetry, some of which are quite innovative. Case in point is h.g., a piece from Switzerland that combines installation art with theatre to retell the story of Hansel and Gretel. Guided by earphones, the audience wanders through nine different ‘physical sensory’ rooms to see the tale of the gingerbread palace, the witch and the oven unfold.

Art for children is by definition accessible, often relying on images and movement to tell stories that can cross language and cultural boundaries. Portland’s Imago Theater does this style of performance particularity well, blending puppets, mime and dance into some beautiful scenes (see clips from their show Frogz above). It takes a creative mind to conceive of a giant paper bag as a puppet, and what’s more, to make it interesting enough to hold the notoriously short attention spans of the 5 to 10 set. Another contender for adult-friendly fare is At Nightfall, a dance performance from Québec set against a dream-like background.

Aside from performers from Italy, Scotland and Québec, the festival will also feature Ottawa’s own Company of Fools, known from Kanata to Vanier for their summer Shakespeare performances in parks around the city. They’ll be doing Elizabethan-style improvisational performances, so you get a bit of a history lesson with your entertainment.

While some of the shows are definitely rated CG (Children Geared), there’s enough performances with more universal appeal to justify the $11.50 – $13.00 ticket price. So go forth and take back the puppets! We can’t let the kids have all the fun.

The Ottawa Children’s Festival takes place from June 1st to June 5th at Lebreton Flats and the War Museum (1 Vimy Place). To win one of two family packs (each pack has four tickets), write to to tell us about the best children’s performance you ever saw before Tuesday, May 31. Be sure to put “Children’s Festival” in the subject line.

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